What is the biggest mistake you've made as a collector? What would you have done differently?
A few years ago I bought a 1909-S VDB MS-64 RB for $1,000 and a 1955 Doubled Die MS-64 RB for $1,200. I sold them both a year later to finance a Corvette website, which eventually failed. I've been kicking myself in the rear ever since!
About 20 years ago I started collecting currency. I had one of every type of issue of fractional currency and many other delights. I sold all of it 10 years ago, and now I almost want to cry when I see the values and prices of what I used to own. So my biggest mistake was buying too much too fast and then having to sell when my family needed the money. Nowadays I take it slow and steady and don't plan on selling anything.
A few years back, we were going on vacation to an all-inclusive resort so I went to the bank for $100 in fives to use as tips. They lady peeled me off 20 $5 bills from a brand new pack. While putting them into an envelope, something looked off, but I was leaving the next day and had other things on my mind. While tipping the last $5 in Cancun, I finally noticed what was off. There were no serial numbers in the upper left corner. I had 20 consecutive error notes and I gave them away. I still can’t look at a $5 bill without getting a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.
Dallas-Forth Worth, Texas
Buy the book before you sell your coin.
Buying proof sets. Started at age 10, continued into adulthood until I finally realized, a few years ago, that I was throwing money down a manhole. Sold them all, except for the lower-mintage pre-1960 sets, at about half of what I had paid the Mint. Lesson learned.
Back in the 1970s, I put a beautiful, complete, high-grade set of BU Roosevelt dimes in one of those albums with the PVC pages that were so popular at the time. By the late 1980s they had green slime all over them, so I tried to clean them. Ended up selling them as junk silver. What a mess!
Fort Collins, Colo.
I bought a 1909-S VDB from a coin magazine some 12 years ago. After about a year I decided to send it to NGC for grading. It came back Extra Fine. It had been cleaned. Wrote to company with no response back. I haven’t bought anything from a magazine since.
This poll question implies that one failed to buy a 1909-S VDB in MS grade back in the 1970s for $100, or failed to purchase double eagles when gold remained at $400 an ounce for years or, in my case, failed to purchase an uncirculated Carson City (CC) 1889 in Uncirculated grade for about $3,000.
All of us have like troubling tribulations that haunt for years or even decades. The same can be said of fishermen with the well-repeated, “the one that got away.”
My biggest mistakes are simply not joining organizations as the American Numismatic Association (ANA) much sooner or other specialty groups plus not expanding my horizon much more earlier in my halcyon youth and embryonic first years in organized numismatics, missing the opportunities to meet and to learn from the stalwarts that have now joined “the big coin club in the sky.” I could name several in both American and Canadian numismatics.
These two mistakes are not about “missed that one” or “should have done that”; rather, the loss was in not edifying and enhancing my main passion, numismatics.
Of course, failing to complete research and writing on the 1925-S California Diamond Jubilee half dollar was a mistake. But what was learned attracted me to its designer, Joe Mora, and his creative works, which are proudly displayed about my den. Lose one but gain two!
Michael S. Turrini
Buying colorized foreign commemorative or “keepsake” coins to sell in a U.S. market.